Mission: Impossible - Fallout
Directed by Christopher McQuarrie
Let's get this out of the way first - the Mission: Impossible series is the greatest of the action franchises. There is no better. None. There is no action series that comes even close to the quality and edge-of-your-seat-holding-your-breath moments. The Bond series has had some serious high points, like Skyfall and Casino Royale and From Russia With Love and GoldenEye. But for every Goldfinger there's a Moonraker, a Die Another Day. Most other action franchises are one or two great films with sequels of diminishing returns. The only action franchises that come close are maybe the Fast and Furious series, but they are limited to cars going real fast and physics that don't work that way and we have to ignore the first three or four, and the original Bourne trilogy.
Of course, when the two weakest films in your franchise were directed by Brian De Palma and John Woo and written by Robert Towne, the bar has been set very high. Very high indeed.
And how good is Mission: Impossible - Fallout? Let me tell you a story. Shortly after the movie begins the fire alarm in the theatre begins ringing. Not a constant ring, just a every few seconds ring. Let's say a every five seconds ring. A theatre employee comes in (ring) and says "don't worry about the fire alarm (ring), it's a stage one (ring) alarm. If we go to (ring) stage two we will (ring) evacuate the theatre." And so I think to myself, "self, this is (ring) a test for how good (ring) this film is. Will anyone still (ring) be in the theatre if (ring) this ringing goes on (ring) for twenty minutes? Or (ring)will the film beat out (ring) this annoying noise?" So, we're sitting there, a nearly packed theatre. Tom Cruise and Simon Pegg and Ving Rhames are doing their impossible mission stuff, messages are self-destructing, Henry Cavill is massive, Alec Baldwin is charming, Angela Bassett is being Angela Bassett, and the whole time ring. I don't know how long it went on, every few seconds ring. Could have been twenty minutes, could have been thirty, probably was longer. Ring. On the screen Tom Cruise and Henry Cavill are preparing for a HALO jump into a thunderstorm. Ring. They jump off the plane into the clouds. Ring. "Are they doing a real HALO (ring) jump? Jesus on a (ring) cracker." Lightening hits our heroes (ring), the score drops out of the film, the sound drops out of the film, leaving only a muffled wind. And no more ring. You could see the whole audience react physically to the experience.
And how many people left during the ringing of the stage one fire alarm? I saw two, maybe three leave. An almost full theatre and nearly everyone sat through the annoying ring for twenty, thirty minutes. That's how good Fallout is.
I could go on and on about Rob Hardy's amazing cinematography, about the beauty of his work, how it brings to mind the work of John Alcott and Roger Deakins. Or about how Christopher McQuarrie has become one of Tom Cruise's primary artistic collaborators - writer and director of two Mission: Impossibles and the first Jack Reacher, writer of Edge of Tomorrow, The Mummy, and Valkyrie - and I could go on and on about how he has become Keef to Mr. Cruise's Mick, pushing and pulling him to his limits. I could go on and on about how Mission: Impossible has perfected the action formula, every beat of the story serving the next organically. I could sing the praises of the supporting cast, how great Ving Rhames and Simon Pegg and Rebecca Ferguson are. I could go on and on about how Sean Harris has created a villain that comes close to rivalling Philip Seymour Hoffman's Owen Davian as the Great Villain of the series. And I could go on and on and on about how Tom Cruise, at 55, is the ultimate Hollywood action star, with his HALO jumps and helicopter flying and building leaps and three Oscar nominations, how he is the Mission: Impossible series greatest asset.
I could go on and on and on about any that. But I won't. How great is Fallout? An almost full theatre and nearly everyone sat through an annoying stage one fire alarm for twenty, thirty minutes.
What I will go on about is Wade Eastwood. And who is Wade Eastwood, you're asking while avoiding whatever work you're supposed to be doing but instead are reading this overly long thing on a new Mission: Impossible movie. Wade Eastwood is the stunt coordinator on Fallout. It's Wade Eastwood and his team that have helped make it possible for Tom Cruise to be Tom Cruise at an age some men hurt themselves in the morning putting on socks. When an argument is made for an Oscar category recognizing stunt work, Wade Eastwood's work is usually brought up. Tom Cruise has be able to fly the helicopters and physically hang off of an airplane and jump between buildings and free climb and run real fast. Wade Eastwood and his team are the ones that make sure everyone is safe while Tom Cruise is doing his Tom Cruise stuff.
So, yeah. Is Fallout worth your hard earned monies? Yes, yes it is. Every frame of Fallout is near perfection. Twenty two years after the first Mission: Impossible and six films and I can't tell you which of the films is the best. My personal favourite is a tie, III and Ghost Protocol, but, damn if Fallout isn't pushing its way in. The level of quality alone over the last four films will be the stuff of legend when our children's children look back at film in the early days of the twenty-first century.
And if you're looking for a film related podcast to listen to while you do things where you can listen to podcasts check out Unspooled. Film critic Amy Nicholson and professional funny guy Paul Scheer are working their way randomly through the AFI Top 100 Films list, one movie at a time. And they just released their episode on The Shawshank Redemption. Check it out. Or not. I'm not your dad.